Joe Donnelly sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 8:10 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A former United States Senator with local ties becomes the newest ambassador to the Vatican.

Joseph Donnelly was sworn in today at the South Bend federal courthouse. Donnelly, a Notre Dame graduate and professor, is best known for being a member of Congress and a U.S. Senator from the State of Indiana.

He was a Representative from 2007 to 2013 and a Senator from 2013 to 2019. While in Congress, he worked closely with President Biden on the Affordable Care Act and advocated for the Auto Industry during the ‘08 recession, specifically the transmission plants in and around Kokomo.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services and House Veteran Affairs committees, Donnelly was a strong advocate of veteran rights.

Mayor Mueller and other local city and county officials were in attendance. Rev. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, offered a prayer and a blessing for the incoming Ambassador.

Ambassador Donnelly said he wants to stand for the United States in a way that only brings honor upon it; that we should strive to be a beacon of light for the rest of the world.

He spoke of one of his mentors, long-time Notre Dame President, Father Theodore Hesburgh, and the Ambassador said that Father Hesburgh taught him one of the most important things is to do what is right, rather than what is easy.

A grandson of Irish immigrants, he expressed his gratitude to his friends, his late parents, and the South Bend Community, which he considers his home, for this opportunity. He learned the values of faith and service at home, and he wants to leave the world a better place for his granddaughter.

While Joe Donnelly and his wife Jill will soon move to Italy, it is evident that Northern Indiana will always be home for him and his family.

The couple, who has been married for over 40 years, met here and married here. They have never been to Italy and are looking forward to this new adventure.

He is excited to work with President Biden and Pope Francis on critical issues of human rights, human trafficking, and climate change. Climate change is a policy priority for the Vatican - Pope Francis and Father Jenkins were instrumental in having the Vatican and Notre Dame co-sponsor a 2019 conference on “The Energy Transition and Care for Our Common Home.”

Donnelly said his favorite player in times of tribulations is the prayer of St. Francis. Upon leaving the courthouse, he laughingly said that his first order of business as Ambassador was to have lunch with his family.

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